Bulletin for Sunday, September 12, 2021

WELCOME TO

ST. JOHN’S UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

September 12, 2021

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com

______________________________

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude   “All Things Bright and Beautiful”    arr. James Mansfield

Welcome

*Call to Worship (based on Song of Solomon 2 and Psalm 45)

One:   Look to the mountains; look to the hills!
Many: Love comes to us with joy!
One:   The world is filled with beauty.
Many: Flowers appear on the earth, birdsong

brightens the day.
One:   Crops yield their produce in abundance; the air is

filled with sweetness.
Many: The gift of God’s love is with us.
One:   Let the oil of gladness anoint your souls.
Many: Arise and sing for joy!

*Opening Prayer

Creating God, you are the source of summer’s splendor—

the beauty and fragrance of delicate flowers, and sweet sound

of birdsong. We come to you this morning with delight and

gladness, grateful for all of your wonders. As the fields

produce their harvest, may your love grow within us,

that we too may produce a harvest of love, hope, and joy.

Amen.

*Hymn   “Holy,  Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”   P. 136 (vs 1, 2, 4)

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Time with the Children

Prayer for Illumination+

Holy Spirit, pour out upon us wisdom and understanding, that, being taught by you in Holy Scripture, our hearts and minds may be opened to receive all that leads to life and holiness.  Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading                      Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-9

Statutes and Ordinances included legal rulings based on precedents and decrees such as a king could make.

Epistle Reading                                          James 1:17-27

James presents two chain arguments to indicate the incompatibility between a Christian life and one dominated by desire.

Gospel Reading                                         Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

These verses are part of the second major speech of Jesus in Mark’s gospel  It repeats its basic point about purity coming from within, from the state of the heart not from ritual behavior.

One:   Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church

Many: Thanks be to God

*Hymn         “Take Time to be Holy”        P. 483 (All verses)

Sermon                                 ByReverend Katherine Beckett

Holy Communion

Invitation to the Table

*Prayer of Confession (based on James 1 and Mark 7)

God of justice and righteousness, your call beckons to us:

to live faithful lives, to turn from wickedness, to walk in your

ways; yet it is so easy to turn aside: to speak a thoughtless

word, to ignore those in need, to strike out in anger, to forget

your ways. Forgive us. Implant your word in our hearts,

and cleanse us from all evil. By the power of your love,
save our souls, that we might faithfully serve you. Amen.

*Words of Assurance (based on James 1 and Mark 7)

*Hymn         “Just As I Am”                        P. 354 (vs 1, 2, 4)    

Words of Remembrance

Prayer of Consecration

Sharing of the Elements

Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Closing Hymn   “God of Grace and God of Glory”      P. 569

          (vs 1, 3, 4)

*Benediction

Announcements

*Postlude  “Fanfare on ‘Lobe Den Herren’”       Craig A. Penfield

*Please stand if you are able.

Welcome to St. John’s UCC!  “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. … The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:7-8, NIV). Welcome to worship, where the Word of God refreshes us.

Today is designated as National Grandparents Day.  We wish all grandparents in our congregation a happy day.  You are blessed!

We extend our condolences to Renee and Dan Caskie upon the death of their son, Troy Warren Caskie, 31 years of age, from Ada, Ohio.  Troy passed away on September 6.  Services were held yesterday at Emmanuel United Church of Christ, with Pastor Jeremy Mann officiating.

A gentle reminder:  Please use the church’s current email address which is blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com, when sending messages to St. John’s UCC.  Thank you.

The Heartland Conference Virtual Annual Gathering takes place September 24 and 25, 2021.  Keynote preacher is the Reverend Dr. Imani Jones; keynote musicians are “The Many”, and the keynote speaker is the Reverend David Long-Higgins.  You may register at https://heartlanducc.org/annual-gathering/

Attendance for Sunday, September 5 was 31 persons.

This Week at St. John’s:

            Tuesday, September 14—Ladies meet at Wendy’s, 10 a.m.

            Wednes., September 15—Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

            Saturday, September 18—Food pantry open 8 to 11 a.m.

Participants in Worship:

You, the congregation of St. John’s UCC

            Duane Bollenbacher—liturgist

            Sue Hardwick–organist

            Blaine Bauman—sound technician

            Jason Cox, Ben Stahl, Bob Stahl—videographers

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Who Are You Jesus? Mark 8:27-38

Faith Formation Sunday

The word “mandala” means a “special circle.” In many different countries people create mandalas as a way of praying or showing something about their beliefs. Some doctors have their patient make a mandala to help them express feelings they have trouble talking about. in Tibet, mandalas for peace are created in sand. The Navajo create similar sand paintings to heal sickness. When they are finished, they take the picture apart and sweep up the sand. Sometimes they sweep it into some water as a special blessing. They do this to remind themselves that everything in the world is always changing and the sand won’t stay the same forever. It starts out just as sand, then becomes a beautiful work of art, and then goes right back to being sand. But when they’re finished, the sand is special because it came from their art and it knows their prayers.

You can make a mandala on your own or with a group. First, gather supplies: items that can be used to create patterns within the mandala, such as buttons, marbles, checkers, bottle caps, building blocks, washers, scrabble tiles, mosaic titles, pebbles, beads, seed pods, leaves; paper circle cut from an 81/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper.

A meditation before making a mandala. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take three, slow deep breaths and imagine God’s Spirit filling you with love from head to toe. Think about something sad that is happening in the world, something that you want to see change. Imagine God’s Spirit moving in the world to answer that prayer. Imagine God’s Spirit bringing love into that situation. Now, imagine God’s Spirit forming a big circle, a circle of love in that place. Imagine what the circle looks like and what it feels like. When you are ready, open your eyes. Use the items you have gathered to make a picture of your circle. You can do whatever you wish with your circle. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Trust that God is with you in creating the right mandala for today.

Today’s activity, on this Faith Formation Sunday, is adapted from Faith Practices: Praying and Making Ritual, copyright 2021 The Pilgrim Press. Faith Practices is an easily adaptable and inexpensive faith formation curriculum for all ages available at thepilgrimpress.com.

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Worship Service for Sunday, September 5, 2021

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Be Opened Mark 7:24-37

A woman comes to Jesus, asking for healing. Because this woman does not follow the same religion as Jesus and his followers, he at first turns her away. Did you catch that? It bears repeating in case you did not. Jesus refuses to heal the woman because she does not follow the same religion. Even Jesus cannot see past his notions of right and wrong, black and white, in and out.

But we have this story because the woman startles Jesus into changing his mind. Not only is her child healed, but Jesus and those who followed him then and follow him now are forever changed.

Even Jesus has to change his mind sometimes. Even Jesus has to pivot away from his entrenched beliefs to embrace a new way. Even Jesus has to be uncomfortably challeneged before he can imagine a new way of doing ministry and healing those in need in his community.

This story is a powerful encouragement to those in leadership positions in church, who fear that change in this 21st context of ministry is both inevitable and impossible. Like Jesus, may you discover that while the only constant is change, you can be who you need to be to lead in these changing times. Jesus himself went through the process of recognizing that what he had been doing was no longer fruitful. Even Jesus saw that it was imperative that he open his heart and mind to new possibilities.

In her book, Dynamic Discernment: Reason, Emotion, and Power in Change Leadership, Sarah B. Drummond notes that she has studied change for more than two decades and in that time, she has “found that even change is changing.” She has uncovered “dramatic shifts in the language we use for the role of leader in bringing about change.” But change itself is not the end of the story. “Throughout the history of God’s interaction with creation, we see God providing the resources to face that which is uncertain and new.”*

What tools is God providing you in this time of rapid change? How can you make the best use of those tools? What prayer can you offer to our Christ, who shows us how to change our minds?

*Drummond, Sarah B.–Dynamic Discernment: Reason, Emotion, and Power in Change Leadership. The Pilgrim Press, 2019.

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Bulletin for Sunday, September 5, 2021

WELCOME TO

ST. JOHN’S UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

September 5, 2021

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com

______________________________

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude      “Worthy Is the Lamb”                         Don Wyrtzen

    (Piano/organ duet by Mary Plaugher and Barbara Plaugher)

Welcome

*Call to Worship+

One:   If you come into this place with the hope of growing deeper, with the hope of connecting, with the hope of glimpsing God, and if all of those things take place, and your spirit is moved, and you swear God is near, and you feel more than lucky for the gift of faith, and then the service comes to an end, and it’s time for you to leave, and you ask yourself, “Where do we go from here?” Then I would say to you, “Go out into the world to love and to share and to learn, but come back soon, because this is the beginning. This is only the beginning. So come on in. Fill your cup here. Be present here. God is here.” Let us worship Holy God.

*Opening Hymn   “Come, Thou Fount. . .”         P. 68  (vs 1, 3)

*Call to Confession+

One of the things I love about the prayer of confession is it

allows us to claim that we are works in progress, and there is

beauty in that. You don’t have to be perfect here. You don’t

have to have it all figured out here. You don’t have to have a

five-step plan for what’s next here. You just have to show up

with your messy, beautiful self, and be honest. So, friends, let

us be honest. Let us pray the prayer of confession together. . .

*Prayer of Confession+

Holy God, We are naturals when it comes to stalling out. We

reach a certain point in the relationship, in the conversation, in

our faith, and then we stall. We buy property on the top of the

plateau and build a house there, destined to never dig deeper

or climb higher. Forgive us for giving up on the things that

matter. Forgive us for confusing the plateau with the mountain

top. Forgive us for taking the easy way out instead of doing

the hard work of curiosity, relationship-building, vulnerability,

and connection. Inspire us to see new paths for where we can

go from here. With hope and honesty we pray, Amen.

*Words of Assurance+

One:   Family of faith, We are works in progress, but we are works in progress designed, created, and claimed by God. No matter what you have done or left undone this week, today is a fresh start. Hear and believe the good news of the gospel:

All:      God is with me on the mountain top, and God is with me on the plateau. I am loved, claimed, and forgiven. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Special Music     “For God So Loved the World”     Paul Mickelson

Time with the Children

Prayer for Illumination+ (unison)

Holy God, we know that you are always speaking—through strangers and friends, through sunrise and sunset, through random acts of kindness and feelings that stir hope awake in us. We know that you speak through dreams and prayer, through a still, small voice and bursts of overwhelming joy. I’ve been meaning to ask. . . where do we go from here? We know that you are always speaking, but we also know that we are inclined to miss it. Settle our spirits now to hear your word fully. We want to be part of the conversation. Gratefully we pray, Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading                                              Ruth1:1-22

Reading from Church History                                        Acts 10

One:   Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church

Many: Thanks be to God

Sermon  I’ve been meaning to ask…Where do we go from here?

*Hymn     “Be Thou My Vision”                             P. 502  (All verses)

Affirmation of Faith+ (unison)

We believe that God is a conversationalist, drawing close to us and asking, “What do you need? Where does it hurt? Who do you long to be?” We see this conversational God in Jesus Christ, God’s own flesh, who walked the earth speaking with the poor, the hungry, the lonely, and the outcast. Therefore, we believe that our call as people of faith is to continue this holy conversation with those who look and think like us, as well as with those who share little in common with us. We believe that through these conversations, we are able to catch a glimpse of the Kin-dom of God, so we continue the conversation in hope. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

*Closing Hymn    “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”    P. 393 (vs. 1 & 3)

*Benediction

Announcements

*Postlude        “The Lord Is My Light”                       Frances Allitsen

*Please stand if you are able.

+Adapted from a prayer by Rev. Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art

LLC | sanctified art.org

Welcome to worship this Labor Day weekend! The Lord gives a wide array of talents and knowledge to us all so we may serve one another through both paid and unpaid work. Thanks be to God!

Thank you to Mary Plaugher and Barbara Plaugher for sharing their musical talents with us through their special music.  To quote

J.S. Bach:  “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.”

Copies of the 2021 St. John’s UCC Church Directory are available on the hutch, and copies can be sent to you if you contact the church office.

Extra copies of the September Serendipity are available on the hutch if you have not received yours by email.

Next Sunday, September 12, we will celebrate Holy Communion during the worship service.

Please remember:  Next Sunday, September 12, Sunday School begins at 9:30 am.; worship begins at 10:30 a.m.

Attendance for Sunday, August 29, was 27 persons.

This Week at St. John’s:

            Tuesday, September 7—Ladies meet at Arby’s, 10 a.m.

                                                       TOPS, 5:30 p.m.

            Wednes., September 8—Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Participants in Worship:

You, the congregation of St. John’s UCC

            Duane Bollenbacher—liturgist

            Barbara Plaugher—organist

            Mary Plaugher—pianist

            Blaine Bauman—sound technician

            Jason Cox, Ben Stahl, Bob Stahl–videographers

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Bulletin for Sunday, August 29, 2021

WELCOME TO

ST. JOHN’S UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

August 29, 2021

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com

______________________________

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude                     “Day By Day”            arr. Robert. J. Hughes

Welcome

*Call to Worship+

One:   Family of faith, this must be the place. This is the place for connection and growth, for community and hope.

Many: This must be the place for questions like, “Where are you from?” and, “What do you need?”

One:   For whispers of: “I’ve been thinking of you,” and, “I’ve been meaning to ask. . .”

Many: This must be the place, because all belong here. All are welcome here. All hurt and joy, needs and prayers, dreams and love, are welcome here.

One:   So, for our call to worship today, we are going to lean into invitation for connection. I want to invite you to take two minutes to introduce yourself to someone around you and to share one thing that has brought you deep joy this week so that we might begin our service with joy, gratitude, and connection. God is near.

Many: Let us worship Holy God.

            Take a few minutes for conversation.  The organ will call us back.

*Opening Hymn   “All Creatures of Our God and King”            P. 23

                                                                                                   (vs. 1, 4, 5)

*Call to Confession+

How many of you have ever had a bad day and found someone

offering you unsolicited advice? How many of you have ever had a

bad week and had someone rush in with dozens of suggestions for

how you might fix things, as if you hadn’t thought of that before?

We have all been there, and we have all done that. It is part of our

humanity. Our scripture reminds us today that often in the face of

hurt, what people really need is not a list of advice or solutions, but

the simple presence of love. So let us pray to God today,

acknowledging that we are works in progress, and that

relationships always come with mistakes and confession.

Let us pray:

*Prayer of Confession+

Gracious God, sometimes life feels like cooking with flour—it

looks like it should be easy, but we always make a mess. This

is particularly true when it comes to our relationships. We so

desperately long to say the right thing, to be the right thing, to

find the right solution, that we overstep the line. Forgive us for

assuming the place you fill. Forgive us for imagining that we,

in all our humanity, could possibly fix all the hurt in this world.

Instead, give us the grace and the strength to stand by our

loved ones in their moments of need to witness their hurt

without trying to fix it. You are God. We are not. Teach us how

to be a friend. Teach us how to ask, “What do you need?”

Teach us how to point to you. Gratefully, we pray. Amen.

*Words of Assurance+

One:   Family of faith, no matter how many times you have spoken without listening, assumed without knowing, offered without asking, or rushed without waiting—you are forgiven. God knows your desire and your intent. God knows when we try and miss the mark, and God surrounds us in grace. So, hear and believe the good news of the gospel:

All:      Every day is a new day for love. We are claimed. We are forgiven. We are invited into relationship. Thanks be to God for growth and grace that know no end. Amen.

Hymn    “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant”                   P. 391

                                                                                        (vs. 1, 2, 4)

Prayer for Illumination+ (unison)

God of long winters and longer summers, in the words of Paul, do your best to come to us quickly. Come to us with loud praise and joy, or appear to us in a still, small voice. Come to us through friends, or come to us through strangers. I’ve been meaning to ask. . . what do you need? Come to us in this text and in this hour of worship, and come to us quickly if you can. We are seeking you. We are always seeking you. With grateful hearts cracked open by love, we pray. Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading                                          Job 2:11-13

The Book of Job is a basic prose tale that describes a man who

falls victim to heavenly competitions, refuses to curse God and is

ultimately restored to greater fortune.  This section is a didactic tale

about the proper way to respond to undeserved suffering.

Epistle Reading                                                      2 Timothy 4:9-18

The Apostle Paul charges Timothy to remain faithful to the gospel and explains his need for a visit from Timothy.

One:   Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Many: Thanks be to God!

Sermon         I’ve been meaning to ask…What do you need?

*Hymn                          “Here I Am, Lord”                            P. 559

*Affirmation of Faith+ (unison)

We believe in relationships. We believe in asking hard questions, in showing up for one another, and in sitting together through the pain. We believe in listening with grace, learning with curiosity, and apologizing with sincerity. We believe in asking for help, saying what we need, and trusting that no degree of vulnerability could strip us of God’s love. We believe in trying our best and offering grace when our best is not enough. And we believe that God is in all relationships—modeling for us the value of community through the relationships of the Trinity. So, we love today, and we strive to love even more tomorrow. Let it be so. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

*Closing Hymn   “Come, Christians Join to Sing”                    P. 87

*Benediction

Announcements

*Postlude      “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”        M. Burkhardt

*Please stand if you are able.

+Adapted from a prayer by Rev. Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art

LLC | sanctified art.org

Good morning and welcome to worship as we gather to praise the God of all creation, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who guides us in love.

“Thank you for the card recognizing my completion of the UCC Lay School of Religion program. Rev. Dan Busch presented the official certificate last Sunday during the morning service at Emmanuel. St. John’s, through two pastors and the congregation, has been most supportive. In particular, Pastor Carol provided me much research material and the opportunity to speak several Sundays. She also gave me the pick of several books when she retired. You, of course, have listened to several messages resulting from research papers for class. If there is anything I can do during your transition period, let me know.

Yours in Christ, Ron Geiser”

Holy Communion will be celebrated on the second Sunday in September which is September 12.  This is due to the Labor Day holiday weekend which will take place the first weekend in September.

Time Change for Services:  Sunday, September 12 (the second Sunday) worship begins at 10:30 a.m., with Sunday School beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Attendance for Sunday, August 22, was 36 persons.

This Week at St. John’s:

            Tuesday, August 31—Ladies meet at Arby’s, 10 a.m.

                                                TOPS, 6:30  p.m.

            Wednes., Sept. 1—Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

                        Participants in Worship:

            You, the congregation of St. John’s UCC

                        Dan Fleming—liturgist

                        Sue Hardwick—organist

                        Blaine Bauman—sound technician

                        Jason Cox, Ben Stahl, Bob Stahl—videographers

Summer fruit basket

Taste some fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) — perfect for summer, and all year round!

Love: “There is always an ‘again’ with love.” —Unknown
Joy: “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” —Anne Frank
Peace: “Peace begins with a smile.” —Mother Teresa
Patience: “The purposes of God may sometimes seem delayed,  but they are never abandoned.” —H.C. Mears
Kindness: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear  and the blind can see.” —Mark Twain
Goodness: “Goodness means to do things for the glory of God.”   —Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Faithfulness: “Do small things as if they were great because of the majesty of Christ, who does them in us.” —Blaise Pascal
Gentleness: “There is nothing stronger in the world than   gentleness.” —Han Suyin
Self-control: “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and  love and self-control.” —2 Tim. 1:7 (ESV)

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Be Love (James 1:17-27)

In the United Church of Christ, we rely on testimonies, not tests of faith. So, unlike other faith communities you may have experienced, most UCC churches do not regularly recite creeds during worship. In keeping with that philosophy, the UCC’s Statement of Faith (here reprinted in the form of a doxology) is not a doctrine of beliefs that must be adhered to, but instead is the beginning of a conversation. What about the statement of faith resonates with your understanding of the work of God in the world? What seems true to you? What makes you uncomfortable? What do you have questions about? Being willing to enter into conversation with the Statement of Faith is one more way that “God is still speaking” in our church.

United Church of Christ Statement of Faith in the form of a doxology

We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God, and to your deeds we testify:

You call the worlds into being, create persons in your own image, and set before each one the ways of life and death.

You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.

You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to yourself.

You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.

You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.

You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in your realm which has no end.

Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen.

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Fall Time Change for Sunday School and Worship

Sunday, September 12, St. John’s UCC begins its fall/winter/early spring schedule. Sunday School begins at 9:30 a.m., and worship begins at 10:30 a.m.

Currently there is a combined Sunday School class meeting in Oppermann Hall at 9:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to join the class is welcome.

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St. John’s UCC Worship Service, August 22, 2021

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Bulletin for Sunday, August 22, 2021

WELCOME TO

ST. JOHN’S UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

August 22, 2021

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com

______________________________

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude    “The God of Abraham Praise”             Benton Price

Welcome

*Call to Worship+

One:   Here in this space, we wear our hearts on our sleeves. Many:       There is no use in filters or walls. This space is an authentic space.

One:   This space is a brave space.

Many: For when it comes to God, we are always invited to bring our full selves into the room.

One:   So, come into this space with your hurt and your joy, your prayers and your dreams.

Many: All of God’s children are welcome here.

Let us worship Holy God.

*Opening Hymn   “O For a Thousand Tongues. . .”                 P. 96

                                                                                                (vs. 1, 3 & 5)

*Call to Confession+

When we gather together we are quick to wave and say hello, to

pass the peace, to comment on the weather, to make small talk and

show hospitality; but how often do we go below the surface? How

often do we sit next to the same people, week after week, oblivious

to the things they might be carrying? Family of faith, I believe God

wants deeper connection for us than that, so listen now to our

prayer of confession and then join me in silent prayer following. Let

us listen. Let us pray:

*Prayer of Confession+

Voice 1:  I’ve been meaning to ask…

Voice 2: How are you? What has your year been like? Did you

                know that I have been thinking of you?

Voice 1:  I have been meaning to ask…

Voice 2: Is your mom okay? Did your sister find a job? Did you

               ever think we’d still be here?

Voice 1:  I’ve been meaning to ask…

Voice 2: Did it get easier? Did the grief subside? Were you

               ever able to sleep at night?

Voice 1:  I’ve been meaning to ask but I haven’t—

Voice 2: Because it’s hard. Because I want to say the right

               thing. Because I’m not sure what you need.

Voice 1:  I’ve been meaning to ask, so I’m sorry for my silence.

Voice 2: Forgive me. Show me where it hurts.

Voice 1:  Let’s start again.

Voice 2: Family of Faith, we could all use some practice in

                asking where it hurts.  Take a moment in silent prayer

    to think of the people in your world, in your lives who

                may need you to reach out and ask.  Give their names

    to God,

Voice 1: Trusting that God hears all things, we say together:

All:         Amen.

*Words of Assurance+

One:   Family of faith, in the journey to love and care for one another, we are bound to make mistakes. Fortunately for us, we worship a God who showed us how to love, and who extends grace to us when we fail to do so for others. So, hear and believe the good news of the gospel:

All:      We are seen. We are heard. We are loved. We are forgiven. Thanks be to God for this endless grace. Amen.

Hymn     “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart”                    P. 132

                                                                                               (vs. 1, 4 & 5)

Time with the Children

Prayer for Illumination+ (unison)

Holy God, Today we will read stories of those who have known hurt— people who have carried shame, who have lived with grief and chronic illness, who have felt alone and ignored, who have seen the depths of suffering. As we listen, we will be reminded of the hurt we have carried during these fragile days—memories and regrets co-mingling in our chests. And as we listen, we will be reminded that our neighbors, our siblings in faith, also come to this space carrying burdens. So, dust off our ears and stretch open the canvases of our hearts so that in our pain, we might lean into one another as we lean into you. Pull us close. We are listening. Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading                                  1 Samuel 1:1-18

Gospel Reading                                                     Mark 5:21-43

One:   Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Many: Thanks be to God!

Sermon         I’ve been meaning to ask…Where does it hurt?

*Hymn           “Rebuilding Starts with Weeping”             (P. 7 bulletin)

            (sing to the tune of “O sacred head, now wounded”  p. 284)

*Affirmation of Faith+ (unison)

On my best days,

I believe that God is there—standing in the sun with me,

laughing a contagious laugh and cheering me on.

On my hardest days,

I believe that God is there—standing in the rain with me, holding me up and sharing in my grief.

No matter where I go—in joy or in loss, in pain or in love,

in heartache or in gratitude—I believe that God is there, leaning in, noticing where it hurts, and carrying me through it.

And so, I believe we are called to care for each other as God cares for us. On your best days in the sun and on your worst days in the rain, I will do my best to be there for you, too. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

*Closing Hymn  “Lord Dismiss Us with Your Blessing”  P. 748

*Benediction

Announcements

*Postlude       “Recessional”                     Charles Sergisson

*Please stand if you are able.

+Adapted from a prayer by Rev. Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctified art.org

Welcome to St. John’s United Church of Christ!  As we worship together, may the Holy Spirit, weave a fabric of justice to cover the world, using us as threads of love and mercy.

The Concert on the Lawn at the Mennonite Home, scheduled for this evening, is cancelled.  As a service to the residents of the Mennonite Home, a small, private concert with the Hallelujah Saints Band and ice cream, will take place.  The difficult decision to cancel this year’s concert was made due to a continued increase in COVID-19 cases in this area.

Attendance for Sunday, August 15 was 30  persons.

The September-October Upper Rooms are available in the racks if you want to pick up a copy.

The Reverend Dan Busch, who is our Northwest Ohio Association Minister, is celebrating 50 years of ordained ministry this year.  A card shower has been planned in honor of his ordination milestone.  There is a card on the hutch if you would like to sign it as you leave today.

The Hosler and Reichenbach families thank their St. John’s church family for sharing with them in the celebration of Tracy’s life.  Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated.  Their thank-you card is posted on the sanctuary bulletin board.

This Week at St. John’s:

            Tuesday, August 24—Ladies meet at Arby’s, 10 a.m.

            Wednes., August 25—Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 am.

Participants in Worship:

You, the congregation of St. John’s UCC

Dan Fleming—liturgist

Sue Hardwick—organist

Blaine Bauman—sound technician

Jason Cox, Ben Stahl, Bob Stahl—videographers

Christ has no body but yours;
no hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.

–St. Teresa of Avila

Rebuilding Starts with Weeping

(sing to tune on page 284, in “Worship and Rejoice”)

Rebuilding starts with weeping, with tears that fall like rain,

With full and honest grieving for years of loss and pain,

For suffering and sorrow that never had to be.

Rebuilding starts with weeping for all who are not free.

Rebuilding starts with praying, with hopes allowed a voice,

With visions for our country, with reason to rejoice.

We offer up our spirits, our hearts and minds and hands.

Rebuilding starts with praying for strength to heal our land.

Rebuilding starts with loving, with care for every soul,

With yearning in compassion that all may yet be whole,

That enemy and neighbor may know a better day.

Rebuilding starts with loving, for love will show the way.

Text:  Amanda Udi-Kessler, copyright 2020

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